Rewind to last year whilst I was planning my trip to the other side of the world, did I imagine I would be walking around freezing my tootsies off and wearing a scarf and beanie around Sydney? Absolutely not! Refer back to 12 things I’ve Learned About Australia and the cold was one of them!
Strictly speaking this is not true for the whole of Australia but the winter chill hits other southern cities like Melbourne & Canberra (which has been as low as -2 this winter apparently). You can still lap up the heat up in northern cities such as Brisbane and Darwin on the other hand, I’m yet to experience Queensland but I’ve heard northern parts get hot weather all year round.
So anyway, I was at a bit of a loss on what to do with my weekends off work to make the most of being the other side of the world in Sydney. After all, I had plans to sit on the beach for the whole year but it turns out that there are around 2/3 months a year where that ain’t gunna happen. Luckily, there are still ‘cold weather’ activities where I really felt as though I was experiencing something new and ‘travelling’ despite the fact I was doing the daily 9-5 grind. So here are a few suggestions and things that we did this Winter:
The Blue Mountains National Park
Get away from city life to the scenery of the Blue Mountains on either a day trip or weekend away. It only takes around 2 hours from Sydney on either the train or driving so is well worth a visit no matter the weather! It was lovely going in winter and I would highly recommend booking a big Air Bnb like this house we rented with some friends, explore in the day and chill in the evenings. Katoomba, Leura, Woodford and all areas in between are close to the sights like the Three Sisters, Scenic World and The Worlds Steepest Cable Car.
Christmas in July
Yes this is actually a ‘thing’. As the seasons are opposite to that of the UK, its boiling hot here at Christmas. So during July when it’s a bit chilly and the woolie jumpers are out, many local pubs and restaurants serve up a slap up Christmas dinner, with Christmas jumpers, decorations – the lot in July. I’m all in for the turkey dinner but I can’t quite get on board with the other Christmas traditions and singing to The Pogues… give me a Christmas in the sun then maybe next year I’ll hop on board.
Whale watching season is in full swing from the beginning of June as the annual migration of Humpback Whales from Antarctica make their way to Queensland. You won’t find it difficult to find tours offering a Whale Watching service right in the city from Darling Harbour and Circular Quay.
We went with a company called Whale Watching Sydney and paid $35 each (this was with a 50% discount which I think runs almost all the time anyway). It really was a day to remember, everything I imagined and more! Sightings aren’t guaranteed, although its very likely but obviously there is no controlling where the Whales will be. However we were very lucky and saw them breaching (jumping) out of the water, fins coming up and a whole pod came within metres of our boat. It really was such a special moment seeing them in their natural habitat and something to tick off my bucket list.
Skiing – Yes there is snow!
How ironic would it be that spent my whole life growing up in Europe with some of the best slopes in the world and yet it could work out that my first time skiing was in Australia!? Although I haven’t actually done this (yet), I have been recommended that Jindabyne/Snowy Mountains are a few hours drive from Sydney and a popular skiing destination in NSW.
The Good Food & Wine Show
The equivalent to the BBC Good Food Show back home, they have it in all big cities including Melbourne and Sydney.
This year The Good Food & Wine Show was on the weekend of 22-24th June in Sydney and it was great! Expect loads of free tasters (my favourite kind!), cooking demos from celeb chefs and wine tastings plus posh add ons like afternoon tea or cheese and wine matching experiences if you want to go the whole hog!
Vivid is an annual music and light festival which takes place every year in Autumn from May-June lasting for 3 weeks. Sydneys Iconic landmarks play backdrop to mesmerizing light displays across the city and it really is an instagrammers dream. The light installations span across the city from The Opera House, Darling Harbour, The Rocks to as far as Kings Cross and Taronga Zoo.
Lets go shopping
Although not a very original past-time, it is worth mentioning how great the shopping malls are here. On a cold day there are loads of Westfield shopping malls to get lost in with huge food courts and a vast range of stores from Target/Kmart (my substitute to Primark for cheap clothing) to Gucci and high-end department stores. You can pretty much guarantee if you live in Sydney, you’re within range of a Westfield and can spend you days mooching around.
Or just go out to eat
If all else fails and you don’t fancy an activity, then fall back on my all time favourite past time – stuffing my face with food. Hit up Spice Alley for some of the best Asian food the city has to offer, go to a Japanese like Hisshou for a fiery Tappenyaki show, treat yourself to a banging steak at Rockpool Bar & Grill for some art deco dinner vibes or go to a fancy rooftop like 360 Bar & Dining or Quay to soak up the iconic Sydney skyline.